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Carrier Grade Linux: Linux in Telecom

Linux and the Telecommunication Industry--Overview

  • June 23, 2005
  • By Ibrahim Haddad

Traditionally, communications and data service networks were built on proprietary platforms that had to meet very specific requirements in areas such as availability, reliability, performance, and service response time. Those proprietary systems were composed of highly-purposed hardware, operating system, middleware, and often included proprietary technologies and interfaces. Such proprietary approaches to system architecture fostered vendor lock-in, very served to limit design flexibility and freedom, and produced platforms that were and are very expensive to maintain and expand.

Today, those same service providers and carriers are challenged to drive down costs while still maintaining carrier class characteristics for platforms to provide service and mission critical applications in an all-IP environment. They are in a position today where they must move away from specialized proprietary architectures, and towards commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) approaches and building practices (Figure 1) for several reasons:

  • Faster time to market.
  • The need to reduce design and operation costs by using COTS hardware and software components.
  • The growth of packet traffic is placing added pressure on communication networks. Communication platforms reside on all-IP networks and need to maintain carrier grade characteristics in terms of availability, reliability, security, and service response time.
  • The emergence of COTS hardware and software components is driving the need for seamless integration of all components as integrated solutions must be validated for carrier grade availability and scalability.
  • Service providers and carriers need to be able to deliver new services based on common standardized platforms.

Figure 1 shows where the PICMG and Service Availability Forum are active in defining building block components and open interfaces for standards-based telecom platforms.

As a result, proprietary legacy systems no longer offer a viable approach. They are expensive to buy, maintain, and scale. As a result, the telecom industry is moving away from specialized proprietary systems toward open platforms that are based on industry established standards and common practices.

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